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DWWA 2014: Regional France insights

Hear from our Regional France Regional Chair Andrew Jefford on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

The dazzling variet y and plethora of indigenous styles offered by regional France was evident again this year, with Trophies going to categories as diverse as two white wines from IGP Alpilles, two rosés from Côtes de Provence and a sweet wine from Arbois. Check out the Golds and Silvers, and you’ll find an even bigger spread, including IGPs as diverse as Atlantique, Maures, Côtes du Lot, Charentais and Mediterranée, and ACs as recherché as Irouléguy, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Gaillac, Coteaux Varois, Bandol, Côtes de Duras and Côtes du Marmandais. As ever, we’ve got something for everyone.

What should we buy from here?

A battery of medal winners came from two areas in particular. The first? Dark, vivacious and increasingly sophisticated, the wines of Cahors (from a range of vintages from 2009 onwards) were looking more attractive and diversely styled than ever. The white wines of Jurançon are their natural counterpart, either in dry guise or sweet: hauntingly scented, full of an intriguing tropical sourness, and vivaciously flavoured and balanced – and offering fine value, too. There were even more rosé contenders than usual from Provence this year, and we were heartened to see an increasing diversity of styles. Some emphasise fruit, and some nuts and vegetal notes; some are creamy and soft, while others are light and darting.

What should we leave on the shelf?

The least successful category this year (though even here we found Silvers) was Vin de France – and it’s worth noting, too, that the number of entries in this category was significantly up on last year. We hoped that the liberty afforded by Vin de France rules to strike out in new and innovative directions would be evident. Alas, many seemed to sweep up the leftovers. Price, obviously, will testify to producer ambition, and there were a number of honest varietals that offered good value (and won Commendeds) – but beware apparent bargains. I suspect the category will grow again next year: fingers crossed we see the vanguard.

What should we keep an eye on?

Are things stirring in Buzet at last? One Silver and four Bronzes isn’t a huge haul, but it’s a step up from previous years. More plantings of the two Manseng varieties, and of Tannat too, in the Côtes de Gascogne is surely a good sign. This swathe of Armagnac can do simple, fresh wines as well as anywhere in France, but it would be great to see it tackle something more serious. Only four wines from the Jura, but three won, respectively, a Commended, a Silver and a Trophy: if only we could see a little more from this fashionable, boundary-pushing sub-Alpine region. Irouléguy, finally, is a strange name and a tiny Pyrenean outpost of French winemaking, but its wines always show well at the DWWA.

Written by Decanter

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